the bottom line at Patnitop

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Patnitop is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Jammu Kashmir, but this is not just about Patnitop, but about all the Patnitops in the world and all natural wonders around us. We have coined new names, like eco-tourism, and we keep on flogging old sayings like 'leave only your footprints and shoot only with your camera'. We claim to be so much aware of the threat to our natural environment and the need to protect.

'Because God created nature it demands our respect', says a sign on Patnitop. It is the kind of sign we find at most such places. However 'respect' is the last thing we find at these nature resorts, in Kashmir, in Sri Lanka or anywhere else, when it comes to treating Mother Nature or God's gift to mankind.

Patnitop is still a fantastically beautiful place. There is enough natural beauty left to give us an idea of what it woudl have been a few decades ago. It also tells us what it woudl be like in other such places where we have allowed the tourists to invade and destroy. Today we cannot see the beauty of the sprawling hills, listen to the wind blowing through the trees or the music of the birds. The vista is obscured and obstructed by the concrete jungle coming up all over the place, all around us. The music is drowned by the blaring horns and groaning trucks and buses.

There is a very poor, and i would say a pathetic attempt to disguise the concrete monstrocities by covering them in timber. This is far more painful a sight as it reminds us of all the trees that would have been destroyed to create these monsters. Also we notice that after a few years this makeup has decayed exposing the devil lurking underneath, for the holiday resorts that are coming up day by day are the devil incarnate. The more rooms they add, the more facilities they add, more visitors would arrive. Every minute, every hour, every day these visitors spend at Patnitop and all other Patnitops on earth, it shortnes the life of our beloved mother nature by several fold. Though everyone is aware and is reminded over and over again about littering and about pollution many of these visitors pay scant regard.

The young honeymooners who come here do not for a moment think that someday they should be able to bring their children to such heavenly places on earth, to let them too enjoy such beauty. The young parents who come here today do not care to think that their children too should be able to bring their own children here someday.

It is difficult to understand such behaviour, because the people who visit these places seem to have some idea of the beauty and know to appreciate it. They seem to be educated and intelligent enough to be aware of the importance of preserving natural wealth, and they also know they shoudl love and respect our Earth Mother. If not most of these people would not have been able to afford to visit such places, because in todays world one needs some education and intelligence to earn enough to  make such journeys. There are ofcourse some misguided youth who have no hesitation in using up the welath of their parents and because they do not have any sense of the value of money and in the same way have no respect or regard wither for their parents, for mankind or for nature, probably they do most of the damage. Some of these young people could also belong to families enjoing their ill gotten gains and who belive that God created everything and everyone else on earth for their benefit, to be used as they wish.

People have a right to visit the attractive places of natural beauty. They have a right to stay in such places and enjoy it. Because the world belongs to all of us, Plant life, beast and man (in that order), all have a right to everything around us. If we want to visit Patnitop, or Horto Plains, which is really a far more beautiful place than Patnitop, we shoudl be able to do it. No one shoudl be able to limit the number of visitors  or the duration of their stay. Fortunately for our country, so far hotels are not allowed on Horton plains and we coudl hope that our children too would have an opportunity to enjoy at least some of the wonder of this place. But at Patnitop and other such places where accomodation is provided, they will have to go on increasing such facilities and the number of visitors woudl also go on increasing. It would all create more and more destruction. Where are we to draw the line? Do we prevent access to all these places and try to preserve them as they are or do we recognize the right of people to visit them and then destroy them. How ever nature friendly or eco-friendly we try to be, we cannot preseve things as they are. We have to build roads, we have to build rooms and facilities, we have to use vehicle to travel to these sites, which means cutting down trees, causing soil erosion and polluting the air and depleting the water resources. We also completely upset and destroy the delicate balance of these ecosystems.

Do we eat the cake now, or keep it for tomorrow?

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